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Spring Foods

The spring is the season which focuses on the rejuvenation of liver and gallbladder. We naturally eat less in spring or fast for a certain period of time to cleanse the body of the heavy foods that have been consumed over winter. The spring diet should be the lightest of the year. Fresh vegetables and fruits as well as sprouts and cereal grasses should be consumed. This can be accompanied by whole grains, legumes and fresh herbs. Salty foods such as soy sauce, tamari, miso and sodium rich meats should be reduced or eliminated during this season. Also, too many heavy foods should be avoided as they clog the liver and may contribute to spring fevers. Click here for more information on the root cause of liver stagnation and its myriad of symptoms and here for dietary protocols for a healthy liver and liver /gallbladder cleanse.

Enjoy sweet and pungent foods in particular. Honey mint tea is a classes example. The pungent cooking herbs such a fresh basil, fennel, marjoram, rosemary, caraway, dill, bay leaf can be well combined with whole grains, legumes and seeds. Young beets, carrots and other sweet starchy vegetables provide a refreshing sweet flavor. In spring we can also increase the amount of raw foods. When cooking the food, we should reduce the cooking time but use higher temperature. This enables the foods not be cooked as thoroughly.

Enjoy the fresh produce of spring!

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Tomatoes: Our Friends & Enemies

Tomatoes are one of the most consumed fruits. Tomatoes have a sweet and sour flavor, are cooling and act on the stomach and liver. They clear heat in the body and detoxify the blood. Even though tomatoes are acidic, after digestion they alkalize the blood. However, because they can upset the calcium balance due to their solanine content, they are best avoided by people with osteoporosis and arthritis and children.

According to ‘macrobiotics’ tomatoes should never be used as they are acidic and with long term use are weakening to the gastrointestinal tract. According to Dr. Bernard Jensen, author of the ‘Foods That Heal’ book, the acids of green tomatoes are especially detrimental to the kidneys. Therefore, it is recommended to cut and discard the green parts of tomatoes before their consumption.

In Ayurvedic tradition, are problematic because they have a postdigestive effect, meaning that they stay sour after being metabolized. This means that the extended or excessive use of tomatoes irritates the gut, to which any person with an ulcer or an already sensitive stomach will attest. The peel and seeds are also aggravating for the nervous-system. Tomatoes can also acerbate skin conditions and allergies. Tomatoes are a more balanced food when cooked with warming spices such as cumin and turmeric (see the recipe ‘ Dr Verena’s Home Made Tomato Sauce” below).

When eaten in moderation and in season, vine-ripe tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A and B complex, as well as potassium and phosphorus. Tomatoes are rich in sugar (fructose, glucose and sucrose) and contain lycopene, flavonoids, and other phytochemicals with anticancer properties.

Reference:

Wood, R. (1999). The new whole food encyclopedia. United States: Penguin Group

Dr Verena’s Home Made Tomato Sauce

(serves 2 people)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil or butter
  • 1 onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon (tsp) of salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • pinch of chili flakes
  • 6 chopped tomatoes (green parts removed)
  • 1/4 tsp of cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder
  • Celtic sea salt, pepper to taste

Method:

  • Heat olive oil or butter on low/medium heat
  • Add chopped onions, roast for 2 minutes, add salt and bay leave and roast until translucent (approx. 5 minutes)
  • Add chili flakes, stir and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes
  • Add finely chopped tomatoes, stir and put lid on pot
  • Cook for 10 minutes on medium heat
  • Add 1 cup of water and continue to cook for 20 minutes
  • Add cumin and turmeric powder, stir and cook for another 10 minutes
  • Add salt and pepper, stir, switch of heat and let it stand for 10 more minutes.
  • Note: You can add more water of necessary


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Gluten & Yeast Intolerance

Increasing numbers of people today are suffering from gluten intolerance, wheat and yeast sensitivity and related health conditions such as indigestion, lethargy and headaches. A primary cause of many of these health conditions is the continued over-consumption of refined grains (e.g. yeast breads, rice, couscous). Refined grains lack many essential nutrients such as vitamin E, B vitamins and iron because of the removal of the nutrient-dense bran and germ during milling and processing. Further, the combination of wheat and yeast, as found in virtually all commercial breads, can cause our system to clog up, inhibit absorption by the intestine and contribute to the production of toxins.

Whole grains such as quinoa, millet, buckwheat and amaranth are nutritionally superior to refined grain and yeast products. These whole grains contain an abundance of beneficial antioxidants, phytochemicals, and essential nutrients, and are therefore protective against various chronic diseases, ranging from irritable bowel syndrome to cancer. Whole grains are also well metabolized by the human body when properly prepared via soaking, roasting and other forms of preparation.  In addition, they have to be chewed well.

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Ayurveda – A Five Thousand Year Old Medical System from India

The Origin of Ayurveda:

Widely regarded as the oldest form of healthcare in the world, Ayurveda is a holistic, intricate medical system that originated in India thousands of years ago. The fundamentals of Ayurveda can be found in Hindu scriptures called the Vedas, the ancient Indian books of wisdom. The literal translation of Ayurveda is Knowledge of Life.

The Aim of Ayurveda is to protect health, prolong life and eliminate disease and dysfunctions of the body.

The Principles of Ayurveda:

Ayurveda is based on the premise that the universe is made up of five elements, including air, fire, water, earth and ether. These particular elements are represented in humans by three doshas, or bio-energies:

Vata– air and ether – governs movement, directing nerve impulses, circulation, respiration, and elimination

Pitta– fire and water – governs heat, metabolism and transformation (e.g. the transformation of foods into nutrients)

Kapha– water and earth – governs structure, growth and fluid balance

The combination of doshas that we inherit when we are conceived make up our original constitution. Keeping our original constitution in balance as much as possible will help us to maintain good health. An imbalance in our doshas can arise throughout life when we are exposed to an unhealthy diet, sedentary lifestyle, physical exhaustion, stress, increased workload or environmental toxins. When these imbalances in the doshas are not corrected, deterioration in our health occurs. Ayurveda suggests specific lifestyle and nutritional guidelines to help individuals reduce the excess dosha and regain health and well-being again.

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Read the review of the forerunner article by Dr. Verena Raschke and Dr. Birinder Singh Cheema on the eradication of indigenous food habits and the nutrition transition by Stuffed and Starved Author Raj Patel

To read the abstract click here

To receive the full-text manuscript, please email the author Dr. Verena Raschke

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Food Matters

Published on 17 October 2008 by Verena in Blog, Health Topics A-Z, Traditional Food Habits

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Click here to view the trailer

of ‘Food Mattes’!

It is a choice,

you do not have to be sick!

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One of the main contributors to the rising prevalence of chronic diseases internationally, including epidemics of obesity, type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, various cancers, and other lifestyle-related diseases, is the transition from ancient and traditional food habits to the increased consumption of packaged and processed ‘convenience’ foods. This ‘globalized’ food culture, driven by a few multinational corporations, has resulted in the increased consumption of refined grains, frozen and canned vegetables, soft drinks, cheap vegetable oils, artificial sweeteners and flavors and, low quality meats from animals raised in unimaginable conditions. These so-called foods have demonstrably contributed to the decline of health status globally

In recent years, an increasing body of evidence has suggested that traditional foods and food preparatory practices from a variety of cultures are a key aspect of health, well-being and longevity. Food is our medicine, and a diversified diet of whole foods and the use of ancient food preparatory practices (e.g. soaking, roasting, fermenting, steaming and cooking) are associated with countless health benefits and have been practiced by our ancestors for millennia.

We must re-learn this incredible knowledge and return to a diet consisting of a diversity of fresh whole foods. Such foods include fruits and vegetables from fertile soils, organic products from pasture-raised animals, nourishing grains (e.g. barley, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, etc.), a variety of seeds and legumes, cold pressed oils, natural sweeteners, an array of spices and fresh herbs, and perhaps most importantly, pure water. The use of healthy food preparatory practices will increase the digestibility, absorption and assimilation of our food and its nutrients.

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